How to Become a Pastry Baker in 5 Steps
Explore the career requirements for pastry bakers. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, internships and salary to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Is a Pastry Baker?
Pastry bakers are skilled in making pastries, desserts and other baked goods. They find employment in bistros, bakeries, hotels, restaurants and grocery stores. To bake their products, pastry bakers measure and combine their ingredients, prepare the dough and bake the item in the oven. They must ensure the quality of their ingredients and be diligent in monitoring the state of the product as it bakes.
Pastry bakers will often finish their pastries with glazes or decorative icings. They may also have the creative freedom to create new and original recipes if they would like. Depending on their place of work, some pastry bakers may also be in charge of supervising other kitchen workers, ordering supplies and managing the budget for the establishment. The following chart gives an overview of a career in pastry baking.
|Training Required||On-the-job training or apprenticeship and/or school culinary program|
|Key Skills||Following a recipe, measuring ingredients, using equipment, decorating|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||6% for all bakers*|
|Median Salary (May 2017)||$26,520 for all bakers*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Step 1: Research Job Duties and Education Requirements
A pastry baker produces baked goods, such as breads, pies, tarts, special occasion cakes, confections pastries and cookies for the food service, commercial baking, institutional foods and hospitality industries. Some pastry bakers plan dessert menus, order supplies and determine pastry prices, and they may also develop and test pastry recipes. Pastry bakers should have artistic abilities and an adventurous spirit to produce baked goods that look as well as taste appetizing.
Pastry bakers aren't necessarily required to complete formal education. Hands-on training in baking a variety of products and decorating them with icing, chocolate and sugar is essential. You might spend 1-3 years training to become a pastry baker either through apprenticing at a job or completing a program offered by a school.
Step 2: Prepare During High School: Classes and Self Training
Take classes in high school that will help you in your future role as a pastry baker. These classes may include all home economics courses as well as English, business, math and computer classes. Bake as much as possible at home, create your own desserts (test them on your family!) and read recipes books to get acquainted with the cooking lingo. Take advantage of every opportunity (school, church or soup kitchen) to bake. Lastly, try to get a kitchen job in a restaurant, soup kitchen, hospital or nursing home in order to get hands-on experience.
Step 3: Find an Apprenticeship or Internship Program
Some high-quality restaurants have apprenticeships or internship programs. Typically lasting 2-3 years and providing a small compensation, programs provide a solid foundation for pastry baking through on-the-job training from a supervising pastry chef and in-class instruction in culinary basics, nutrition and health regulations.
Step 4: Get a Formal Education in the Culinary Arts
Another path you can take to becoming a pastry baker is to pursue formal training at a technical school or community college. Earning a certificate in baking and pastry can provide you with basic skills to secure an entry- level position. Alternatively, you can earn an associate's or a bachelor's degree in the culinary arts with a pastry baking option from a community college or 4-year college or university.
These programs last from 2-to 4-years and are comprised of hands-on experiences along with classroom instruction in nutrition, food handling, measuring, baking from scratch and decorating. Some specialty classes you may take could cover icings, gum paste, fondant, classical cakes, sugar work and chocolate decoration.
Step 5: Advance Your Career
Take continuing education courses, which teach the latest pastry techniques and standards in a hands-on setting. Pastry bakers can also subscribe to food, wine and cooking publications for the latest tips and trends. Starting as a pastry baker, you may advance to a pastry chef with experience and additional training. As a pastry chef, you could run the pastry section of the kitchen, bake more specialized products and create new desserts.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
There are several related careers that require no formal education but tend to provide on-the-job training instead. Culinary school is also an option for these positions. Some of these careers include food preparation workers and cooks. Food preparation workers are supervised by chefs or food service managers as they prepare a variety of foods. Cooks cook and prepare different foods for consumption at different kinds of establishments. Chefs and head cooks need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. They will also prepare food, but they tend to take on the leadership role in the kitchen and oversee other cooks and kitchen staff.